There’s Grnhornt and there’s syam_148. Though their names are totally different, how the heck do you remember them? For that matter, what about Grnhornt and Grnnhornt?
The longer you work online, the easier it may become to tune into the differences between online monikers, even if they’re just different by a character or two. Because just like those guys named Dylan and Dillon you know IRL, they’re totally different people. As such, your interactions with them are totally different, too.
You probably know people who are incredibly adept at connecting faces with names. These are probably the same people who can tell Grnhornt from Grnnhornt almost immediately. What’s their secret?
Science says: Play Pokémon; remember names better
According to research conducted by psychologists at the University of California – Riverside, it’s all about being able to connect information stored somewhere in your long-term memory with the visual information you can call up into your active, working memory. Even if this skill has eluded you, the research findings provide the basis for a pretty neat strategy.
The researchers used Pokémon figures as stimuli in their experiments, which presented the possibility for testing familiarity’s effect on visual memory. They purposefully gathered participants who were born around 1994 — people who, as kids, grew up with Pokémon cards.* As a consequence, the participants were at least familiar with the visual character cues. Familiarity, they figured, should facilitate facial memory.
The researchers then conducted two experiments in which participants were given the task of remembering as many Pokémon as possible. The first experiment was timed — remember as many as possible in X amount of time — which means advanced familiarity with the characters was key. In the second experiment, the participants had no time limit and were allowed to study and learn the cards.
As expected, familiarity with the Pokémon characters improved memory performance when there was limited time. But when time wasn’t a factor, neither was familiarity. Further, the results showed that those more familiar with Pokémon characters before the study not only were able to easily recall the characters they knew but also were better at identifying ones to which they had just been introduced.
Pokémon cards and Grnnhornt: both are visual cues
So, familiarity with the Pokémon characters improved memory performance. What the heck does that have to do with you, aside from Pokémon being fun to think about?
If familiarity plays a role in cutting down memory processing time, and if Grnhornt and Grnnhornt are visual cues just like a Pokémon (they are), then the key is to get an advanced peek at who you’re dealing with online.
How in the world…?
Good question! Since you never know who’s going to pop into your room (not to mention what kind of wild name they’ve given themselves), take a moment to study the existing names you’re dealing with. The visual “look” of a name written out is no different from a Pokémon card. Like loving Plusle and Minun, make a conscious effort to identify the differences between Grnhornt and Grnnhornt. If science knows what it’s talking about, this type of visual cue study will help you see the difference between this new guy syan_148 and your existing regular syam_148 super-quickly — and that shit is definitely important.
*The data gathering for the study occurred before Pokémon Go.
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Fact: you know who Plusle and Minun are, even if you weren’t aware you knew.